*Not so fast. Having the Pacific Northwest jewel back in the league would be great, but reports that plans for a Seattle arena are gaining momentum may not mean much in NBA terms. At least not any time in the foreseeable future if the next Hornets owner is committed to staying in New Orleans, as David Stern desires, and not any time at all if the Kings get a building in Sacramento, as is possible. It’s still Sacramento’s game to lose.
*Pirating another city is OK now, right? Having it done to you makes Clay Bennett and Stern terrible people, but turning around and doing it to another market would be cause for celebration? Got it. Seattle may have cover since this would be more Sacramento losing the team than it being stolen away, but no one should be naïve. Seattle, or any interested locale, would be on the same hunt under different circumstances as well.
*Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former All-Star point guard, was never naïve. A year ago, amid the rising possibility the Kings were bound for Anaheim, he privately put together a list of teams to steal and instal as tenant should his city overcome years of blundering to finalize a new arena. The Hornets, Hawks and Pistons (before being sold) were, he thought, vulnerable to be looted the same way Anaheim was making a vulture play. Now there is no need for a list, only a simple bottom line. Close an arena deal and the Kings stay. Don’t close an arena deal and there’s no NBA in town, for years and perhaps forever.
*Jazz radio man David Locke can try all he wants to turn Jeremy Lin into an ethnic issue, but comparing his journey with Ichiro is such a bad reach. The Mariners outfielder is from Japan, grew up in a different culture with different training methods and had a language barrier when he came to the United States. Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, was born in Southern California, grew up in Northern California and attended college in Boston. He went undrafted and got cut by the Warriors and Rockets as basketball decisions, not because he didn’t look the part. (Because an athlete with an Asian background clearly would never be embraced in Oakland/San Francisco or Houston.) Sometimes front-office calls, however wrong they seem in this moment of triumph for a class act like Lin, are just front-office calls.
*Never have the defensive talents of Kentucky shot blocker Anthony Davis, the leader to become the No. 1 pick in June, been better illuminated than through the quotes from opponents and Wildcats coach John Calipari in the profile this week by Chris Dortch. “What you have to do to get to the basket against that guy is almost impossible,” Louisville guard Chris Smith said. And: “I went down there one time, and he just told his guys, ‘Just bring him in here, I’m going to block everything,’ ” Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said. And: “The best shot blockers I have seen are the ones that let people release the ball and then go get it, and that’s what he does,” Calipari said. “Marcus Camby, when I had him (at UMass), that’s exactly what he did; he never blocked it in the guy’s hand, he just stayed down and waited for him to release it.” Great stuff.
*All indications are the Lakers will retire the No. 34 of Shaquille O’Neal next season. The brief delay, as opposed to doing it in 2011-12, is due to the rush of the schedule after the lockout, not any doubt it will happen. The tribute has been an automatic for years, no matter how many wrongly guessed the bad breakup in 2004 might cost Shaq a spot on the Staples Center wall.
*Gisele Bundchen says keep scrolling. I cannot write the story and read the story at the same time.
*If the Warriors looked around for big deals that included Monta Ellis before the season when they rated themselves a playoff team, imagine the internal conversations now that they’re 8-14 and coach Mark Jackson has stayed more than once with the reserves over Ellis and Stephen Curry in the fourth quarter of close games. Curry is more prized around the league, and Golden State reportedly was insistent on keeping him while dangling Ellis in Chris Paul scenarios with the Hornets. The more the losses add up, the more anything is possible.
*Kris Joseph of Syracuse and Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure should have been included in the Tuesday story on the rise of draft prospects from Canada. Both are seniors and have solid chances to be picked. Also, the Canadian at Kentucky is Kyle Wiltjer. Greg Wiltjer is his father who played in the 1984 Olympics. My turnover.
*Don’t be surprised if the Clippers bid to re-sign Chauncey Billups in July even with questions likely to still be surrounding his comeback from a season-ending Achilles’ tear. The intangibles as a leader with championship experience are that meaningful, not to mention a friendship with Paul that pre-dates their arrivals in Los Angeles. As people in Denver and Detroit know best of all, and the Clips quickly learned themselves, Billups makes a valuable contribution apart from the basketball itself. It’s just a matter of agreeing on how much that presence is worth coming off a serious leg injury and turning 36 as training camp opens.
*What’s the big deal about Steve Nash at an All-Star level as he passes his 38th birthday? Great players are supposed to do that in their prime. If he’s still that good in 2024 as retirement approaches, then it will be noteworthy.